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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Duckett leads Seahawks over Raiders 23-16

SEATTLE - The second- and third-string Seattle Seahawks were just like their starters: better than the Oakland Raiders.
T.J. Duckett showed he may be more than just the short-yardage back coach Mike Holmgren thinks he is by running for 71 yards and two touchdowns in Seattle' 23-16 victory Friday night in a preseason finale without all but three starters.
Seahawks Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was in sweats to rest a back that has been tight since Aug. 8. He will start the season opener Sept. 7 at Buffalo having played just two snaps since last January's playoffs.
Seneca Wallace, slowed this month by a groin injury, was 21-of-30 for 225 yards in Hasselbeck's place. Wallace fumbled away a scoring chance at the Raiders 3 while getting sacked in the third quarter.
Oakland starter JaMarcus Russell, who will start the Sept. 8 opener against Denver, was in uniform. But the No. 1 overall pick in 2007 stayed on the sideline wearing a team coat as Andrew Walter concluded an improved preseason. Walter was 16-of-24 for 162 yards before yielding to hometown veteran Marques Tuiasosopo with 9:26 remaining.
Tuiasosopo, who led Washington to the 2001 Rose Bowl, threw a 25-touchdown pass to former Huskies receiver Marcel Reece with 1:51 left.
The only starters appearing were Seahawks (3-1). Center Chris Spencer played the first two series, his first game since last January's playoff loss at Green Bay following surgeries on his shoulder and thumb then a back injury last month. Regular right guard Rob Sims started next to him.
On defense, rookie first-round pick Lawrence Jackson started at right end.
It wasn't that the reserves weren't impressive.
In the second quarter, Darren McFadden showed why he was the fourth overall draft pick by Oakland, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy and the star of training camp, according to Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.
McFadden took a handoff, stopped behind traffic on the right, veered left, ran through an arm hug from Seattle's Jason Babin and bolted up field. McFadden appeared on his way to the end zone before Josh Wilson grabbed his shoe and tripped him for a 23-yard gain that brought gasps from the crowd.
McFadden finished with 50 yards on four carries. He will begin the season as the No. 2 back behind Justin Fargas.
Oakland got a scare — and the rest of the stadium got a laugh — when Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler dropped a high snap from Jon Condo on a 21-yard field goal try by Sebastian Janikowski in the first quarter. Lechler, a high school quarterback who wasn't punting because of a quadriceps injury, ambled away and launched a shot put toss that C.J. Wallace intercepted and returned 41 yards. That, and a 33-yard pass from Wallace to Ben Obomanu, set up a 34-yard field goal by Olindo Mare that made it 10-0.
Mare boomed the opening kickoff nine yards deep into the end zone and another five yards deep for a second touchback. That may have clinched the competition between the veteran and rookie draft pick Brandon Coutu to replace Josh Brown as Seattle's kicker.
Coutu made both of his short field goal tries, from 28 and 21 yards. He was 7-for-7 with a game-winner against Chicago in overtime two weeks ago, but Holmgren loves Mare's deep kickoffs. That's something Seattle lacked for years with Brown.
Janikowski tried to upstage Mare by attempting a 66-yard field goal — 3 yards longer than the NFL record for a game — early in the third quarter, after his second field goal of the first half from 50 yards would have been good from 60. But he was short by about 3 yards.
Obomanu, who is almost assured a roster spot, injured his shoulder later in the first half and did not return. It was the latest injury for Seattle's battered receivers. Bobby Engram, who set a team record with 94 catches last season, may be out into October with a broken shoulder. And former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch is just seven months into rehabilitation from reconstructive knee surgery. He may test his knee next week to see if he can play in the opener.

By GREGG BELL, AP Sports Writer
Sat Aug 30, 1:18 AM ET

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